Last year was an outstanding year for the genre, and 2022 is promising to keep that trend going with multiple streaming options bringing to light a plethora of thrilling animated titles from exciting filmmakers. Some of the most anticipated series set to premiere this year include the return of a classic anime, video game adaptations, a spin-off of a popular superhero TV show, a fantasy epic, and plenty more.
With so many to keep track of and many more surprises in store throughout the year, we’ve compiled a list of the most exciting shows you need to keep an eye out for. Premiere dates for the shows will be announced soon except where noted.
Debuts: January 28
Why We Can’t Wait: The Legend of Vox Machina is an animated adaptation of the popular web series Critical Role, which consists of a troupe of voice actors who play an epic campaign of Dungeons & Dragons, plus a couple of original stories. The series originated as a Kickstarter campaign that quickly became the most successful crowd-funding effort ever, a feat worthy of Vox Machina themselves.
The show is a treat for both fans of the original livestream and fans of all things fantasy, as we follow a group of misfits who band together to save the land — but mostly to earn some coin — and battle formidable foes like vampires, mages, and dragons. If you want a fantastical adventure with great action, plenty of irreverent humor, blood and guts, and a group of plucky heroes struggling against impossible odds, this is the show for you.
Debuts: February 18
Why We Can’t Wait: The Cuphead Show is the years-in-the-making cartoon based on the critically acclaimed and beloved (but notoriously difficult) video game Cuphead, which is known for its stunning hand-drawn animation inspired by classic 1930s cartoons, and the adaptation looks to up the ante in terms of visuals. The show will follow Cuphead and his brother Mugman as they head on a fun adventure but end up evading fights from skeletons, boxing frogs, and the Devil. The trailers for the show promise a colorful, bizarre, and fantastic cartoon with incredible art direction bringing to mind the works of Fleischer Studios and even early Walt Disney, with exaggerated, rhythmic movements and a ton of energy.
Debuts: February 23
Why We Can’t Wait: One of the most unique Disney Channel original series, The Proud Family featured a bop of an opening theme by Solange and Destiny’s Child, the first Black protagonist in a show from the network, and a laugh-out-loud funny dysfunctional family with likable and relatable characters. After 20 years, the show is returning with The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder, which brings the family to modern life as they face new challenges like Penny growing up. In addition to bringing back the original cast, the show will feature an incredible line-up of guest stars including Lizzo, Lil Nas X, Leslie Odom Jr., Courtney B. Vance, and more.
Debuts: March 4
Why We Can’t Wait: While we wait for the return of the irreverent superhero satire The Boys, animation fans can take solace in knowing we’ll get more stories in that world quite soon. The Boys: Diabolical is an anthology animated series that combines old-school cartoon visuals with modern comedy, resulting in a violent, funny throwback to Chuck Jones’ Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies shorts, only far more adult.
The shorts come from a range of exciting talent that includes The Boys comic creator Garth Ennis, Rick and Morty co-creator Justin Roiland and Ben Bayouth, Andy Samberg, Aisha Tyler, and more. That each short is set to be animated with a completely different style is just another reason to be excited about the mayhem to come.
(Photo by Wizards.com)
Debuts: TBD in 2022
Why We Can’t Wait: Magic: The Gathering is arguably the most popular tabletop trading card game in the world, and its first TV adaptation is more than a little anticipated, even if we don’t know much about the show. For one, it’s set to tell a completely new story but feature similar characters. Then there’s the cast, with Legends of Tomorrow star Brandon Routh voicing the main character. The show will be produced by Jeff Kline, who previously helmed the fan-favorite action cartoon Jackie Chan Adventures. Magic: The Gathering promises to be an epic, magic- and action-filled fantasy adventure with plenty of familiar creatures and heroes.
(Photo by Studio Pierrot)
Debuts: October 2022
Why We Can’t Wait: After nearly a decade away, the influential and beloved anime Bleach is returning with new episodes, which will finally adapt the final chapters of the manga and give a proper closure to the anime. Studio Pierrot is returning to animate the new episodes, and they’ll tell the story of soul reaper Ichigo Kurosaki as he returns to battle just as an army of Hollows start to invade the world of the living. Bleach is one of the most influential manga ever, once considered part of the “Big 3” together with One Piece and Naruto, and the anime helped introduce the medium to many a fan, with incredible fight scenes, a huge cast of memorable characters, and a super catchy soundtrack. Thousand-Year Blood War will premiere in Japan in October 2022, but we don’t know yet who will broadcast the episodes internationally.
(Photo by Funimation)
Debuts: July 2022
Why We Can’t Wait: The Devil Is a Part-Timer! was a big surprise when it first premiered in 2013; it was an alternate take on the popular “isekai” genre, in which a naive regular person is transported to a fantasy world. Here, though, it wasn’t an everyday Joe who gains new powers in another land, but the devil himself, who is transported to Tokyo and, powerless and penniless, forced to work at a fast food restaurant to pay the bills. The first season of the comedy series is a hilarious story about not judging a book by its cover, about whether people can change, and the struggles of the gig economy. Still, it ended on a bit of a cliffhanger, and it will make its return this year after almost a decade. If the new episodes are half as good as the first season, we’re in for a treat.
(Photo by Adult Swim)
Debuts: October 2022
Why We Can’t Wait: After multiple delays, we finally have a release window for Uzumaki, the highly anticipated anime adaptation of the beloved horror manga series by the acclaimed Junji Ito. Ito is arguably the most renowned name in horror manga, but his work doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to adaptations, so Uzumaki is looking to break the trend.
The show is a co-production between Japanese studio Production I.G. and Adult Swim, as it will air in the U.S. before debuting in Japan. What little footage has been released looks to be a mesmerizing nightmare, as it will tell a story about an isolated town afflicted with a curse that is connected to the appearance of spiral patterns all over the town, causing paranoia and eventually pure horror. It’s been a while since we’ve gotten a great horror anime, so here’s hoping Uzumaki will bring with it the good kind of nightmares for the Halloween season.
(Photo by Netflix)
Debuts: TBD in 2022
Why We Can’t Wait: The latest chapter in Netflix’s Army of the Dead saga, this animated prequel will tell the story that was hinted at in Zack Snyder’s live-action film and follow a group of mercenary soldiers during the initial fall of Las Vegas as it succumbs to a zombie outbreak. This is what we briefly saw during the stunning opening credits sequence Army of the Dead, as Dave Bautista’s Scott Ward and his crew battled endless hordes of zombies in the city of sin. Bautista, Ana de la Reguera, Tig Notaro, Omari Hardwick, and Ella Purnell are all expected to voice their characters in the series. Jay Olivia, who has directed multiple well-received DC animated films, will helm Lost Vegas, which could be the next big zombie hit.
Debuts: TBD in 2022
Why We Can’t Wait: One of the most hotly anticipated anime adaptations of the past couple of years is finally coming to our screens in 2022. Chainsaw Man blew away minds when the manga first premiered, with its bonkers tale of an alternate timeline where the Soviet Union still exists, demons are born from human fears, and a young man accidentally merges with a demon that allows him to turn parts of his body into literal chainsaws.
The anime is being helmed by acclaimed studio MAPPA, and the first trailer looks to have captured the incredibly gory, bizarre, and also kind of funny tone of the story to a T. If you have an Attack on Titan– or Jujutsu Kaisen–sized hole in your life, Chainsaw Man may be just the anime to fill it.
Debuts: TBD in 2022
Why We Can’t Wait: From the series description: “ARK: The Animated Series chronicles the story of a mysterious primeval land populated by dinosaurs and other extinct creatures, where people from throughout human history have been resurrected. When 21st century Australian paleontologist Helena Walker awakes on the ARK after tragedy, she must learn to survive and find new allies, or die again at the hands of ruthless warlords — all while trying to uncover the true nature of their strange new world.” It promises to be a bonkers show, and we are here for it.
Debuts: TBD in 2022
Why We Can’t Wait: Netflix has already delivered some of the best animated video game adaptations, and Cyberpunk: Edgerunners wants to join the list. Studio Trigger, who is known for acclaimed titles like Kill la Kill and Promare, is set to adapt CD Projekt Red’s video game about mercenary outlaws in a futuristic cyberpunk city where everyone is obsessed with modifying their bodies with tech.
The show is set to be a standalone story about a kid having to become a mercenary edgerunner to stay alive, which is vague, but enticing. It will be directed by the mad genius behind the technicolor marvel that is “The Twins” episode of Star Wars: Visions and written by the screenwriters behind Promare. This promises to be an action-packed visual marvel like no other.
Thumbnail image by Netflix